Poised Russell Wilson has his best pro game

Seattle’s rookie quarterback helps team beat Panthers 16-12

jjones@charlotteobserver.comOctober 8, 2012 

Before every game, Seattle Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson writes a message on his wrist to carry with him.

Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, the message was ‘poise.’

Wilson, the former N.C. State quarterback playing his first NFL game in the Carolinas, led his team to a 16-12 victory against the Panthers by staying poised under pressure and delivering his best game statistically of the season.

“Today was ‘poise,’” Wilson said. “No matter what’s going on in the game, bring that to the table, bring that to our offense. And we definitely did that today.”

Wilson completed 19 of his 25 passes for a career-high 221 yards and a late third-quarter touchdown. He tossed two interceptions -- one of which was returned by Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn for a touchdown -- but his coach was pleased with everything else.

“I thought he played fantastic today,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said. “He did everything well. He threw one ball on his back hip and everything else was dead on the money. I thought his third down execution was great. … I thought he was big time.”

Before Sunday’s game, ESPN reported that should Wilson struggle on third downs, Carroll may call Matt Flynn’s number at quarterback. Wilson had his worst game last week, passing for 160 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions.

Against Carolina, the Seahawks placed an emphasis on third-down conversions. They were 50 percent on third downs, with Wilson converting five third-down conversions out of 10 via passing.

For as much as he had attempted to block out the scrutiny this week, Wilson heard it.

“I use it as fire,” Wilson said. “I trust in what I’m doing and the steps I’m taking every single day to get there early and watch tons of film and take tons of notes. All that attention to detail to be good at what you do, I can never let that waver.

“Just keep working, keep playing and stay humble. It’s just one game.”

Wilson was 12-for-13 in the first half. He targeted former South Carolina wide receiver Sidney Rice four times, and Rice had 56 first-half receiving yards.

Rice, a former Gaffney (S.C.) High star, said he gave at least 100 tickets to friends and family for Sunday’s game. He finished with five catches for 67 yards.

“He’s a young guy always looking for guidance but he’s handled himself really well through the first five games.” Rice said of Wilson. “I’m sure he’ll continue to come along.”

One mistake Wilson promised to note was Munnerlyn interception. Wilson’s first pass of the second half to tight end Anthony McCoy was undercut by Munnerlyn and returned 33 yards for Carolina’s first score.

Later in the quarter Wilson made amends.

On third-and-8 from the 13, Wilson checked his first and second reads before seeing Golden Tate flash underneath for the touchdown.

“The main thing is just have amnesia, whether it’s good or bad you have to forget about it and play one play at a time,” Wilson said. “That’s what it takes to be great. I’m not saying I’m great at all, but that’s what it takes to get there.”

At the end of his post-game press conference, Wilson was asked if he was able to catch N.C. State’s 17-16 upset victory against Florida State the night before. Wilson, the Wolfpack’s three-year starter before transferring to Wisconsin, admitted the game kept him up later than he wanted, but he was pleased with the outcome.

“Thanks, guys,” Wilson said stepping away from the podium. “Go Pack.”

Jones: 704-358-5323; Twitter: @jjones9

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